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Sunday, 20 December 2015 23:39

Q&A: Andy Johnston, Vice President of Government and Corporate Affairs, Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce

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Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce members share concerns over energy, health care policy and talent development, and those are the issues the organization will focus on in 2016, according to Andy Johnston, the group’s vice president of government and corporate affairs.

What are the top legislative priorities for the Grand Rapids Chamber going into 2016?

Like with any new year, you still have to deal with the hangover from the last year. … The key really is the energy discussion. We want to make sure that that we have a plan in place that protects competitive electric markets and ratepayers — so that’s going to be a top priority for the Chamber.

Do you think energy policy will get any attention in the final days of this year?

I don’t think we see a path to that getting done by the end of this year. We have a long history at the Chamber of supporting energy policy that improves the competitiveness of Michigan businesses, and that includes electric choice. The way some of the legislation is written — as of today — is a bit concerning and needs to be improved.

How do you expect road funding will impact businesses, even though the added cost isn’t fully coming online until 2017?

We want to make sure what was passed in November gets appropriately implemented. There’s $100 million earmarked to a Road Innovation Fund. We want to see that report issued quickly so that funding can be released quickly by the legislature and go to all road and transit agencies. We’ll be seeing that in the first quarter.

What’s one thing you’d like to see Gov. Snyder champion in 2016?

I think him continuing to be a champion on workforce development will really pay dividends for our members.

What are some top concerns for your members going into 2016?

We’re still focused on addressing key concerns of members, which includes workforce investment on both sides of the talent continuum. We (also) need to protect our investment in early childhood (education) and continue to put money in the skilled trades training fund that West Michigan employers have gotten a lot of help from for key investments in training. We want to make sure that continues.

Interview conducted and condensed by John Wiegand.

Read 1639 times Last modified on Monday, 28 December 2015 10:30

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